The 20-year-old talks about working with Travis Barker and Avril Lavigne and following in her mom's rocker footsteps.
Willow Smith isn't letting anyone stop her from making her music.
In an interview for Face Magazine, the 20-year-old opened up about her musical journey and how growing up with a rocker mom has shaped her experience today. Smith reflected on growing up behind the scenes of her mother's gigs with Wicked Wisdom, the 2000s metal band that Jada Pinkett Smith founded and fronted.
"They would take me to the back of the venue and I would just put my little horns up," she said, recalling the years she spent accompanying her mom on tour. "There were specific moments when I felt like she was just performing to me. It felt so beautiful and so inspiring. I knew that that’s what I wanted to do with my life."
Watching her mom front the metal band also prepared Smith for the deluge of negativity that would come her way from older rock fans. In a previous interview with L’Officiel, Willow shared that her mom "got so much hate."
"It was intense racism and sexism, just packed onto the tens," she said. "People giving her death threats, throwing glass at her onstage. Some crazy stuff went down when she was touring with her band. Obviously, she was scared. But she really showed me what 'womaning up' really was, by taking a stance and not being afraid of other people's judgments and perceptions. I really wanted to just go within that place in myself and try something new, regardless of what my insecurities were."
To Face, Willow said she believes "a lot" has changed, but, "even if it hasn't, I'm just going to continue doing the work. That's what I'm here for."
"I wish I could understand [them], but because I’m not in their mindset, it’s kind of hard," she added. "There's a reason that me doing this must cause them pain, so I have compassion for that, but I'm not gonna change what I'm doing. I try not to look too deep into it because I don't want to get attached to those negative emotions. There's no reason for me to get attached to them. But I still don't want to shy away from it."
Regardless, Willow refused to adhere to the idea that rock music is "owned" by some of the critics hurling abuse her way.
"Black people created rock music," she asserted. "But we have been so indoctrinated, so conditioned to believe that we only thrive in certain categories of creativity and entertainment. And that's just not OK."
Hate aside, the "Lipstick" singer is excited for fans to hear more of Lately I Feel Everything, which features tracks with Travis Barker and Avril Lavigne.
"Travis and Avril know pop-punk more than anyone," she shared. "To see them be so proficient in their art was just so inspiring. Travis listened to "[t r a n s p a r e n t s o u l]" one time and played it perfectly. Like, that's crazy! The fact that Avril can just do one idea and there's no questions, that's what we're going to do, that's the most fire... They're just so in tune and they know it's going to be great."